Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Sex in the Christian City

It is with some hesitation that I address the matter of sex in this blog. Even though God gave me a message once before, I am still tentative to address sex again now for a number of reasons.

First, the subject is spoken about with great frequency in the Christian world; what can I add that hasn't already been said? Also, what more can I say now than what was written in the other message?

Writing frankly about sex can also offend the sensibilities of some. The enemy can even use the subject to tempt and titillate those who already struggle.

Nevertheless, it has been on my mind and in spite of the aforementioned issues, sex is worthy of Christian discussion, if for the mere reason that we need to be reminded of the pitfalls that sexual sin provides so that we may be vigilant to avoid them.

Also, it is a true saying that there is no better way to stop the works of the enemy than to bring them into the light, and so this blog shall endeavor to do so in order to help as many of us as possible reach for the standard God requires.

First, let us establish that God is a God of purity.

Sex outside of marriage, and indeed merely lustfully desiring it, is clearly forbidden in God’s Word (Matthew 5:28).

God created sex and it is to be enjoyed, but He intended this type of intimacy to be solely between two people within the safe confines of a committed, lifelong marriage.

Let us be clear that the rampant promiscuity, adultery, divorce/remarriage, and homosexuality that go on throughout the world were never God’s original intent.

God’s plan was that, "...a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh" (Genesis 2:24). Man, at the direction of Satan and his demons, has distorted this purpose and thus we have societies who do not reflect the wholesomeness of God's original creation.

Secondly, while God is pure, Satan and his demons are creatures of FILTH who want us to join them in their loathsome mire. One of the easiest ways for them to draw us there is to titillate our flesh with forbidden sexual desires and acts.

As our society quickly continues to unravel into a cesspool of sexual perversions, many of us Christians are becoming more and more desensitized to its infiltration into our own lives.

Nowadays, a person can easily be bombarded by sexual sin through all forms of media, including the movies we watch, the books and magazines we read, the websites we surf, and even through the billboards on our highways.

Seeing sensual or provocative photos and moving pictures, hearing sexually-related conversations and jokes, or reading provocative stories, among many other things, has become common place in many Christians’ lives.

Many of us right now are so often exposed to this sort of filth that we do not experience a check in our spirits that it's wrong; exposure to sexual perversion has become way too normal in our lives. We have become numb to it.

Much of the fruit produced by this exposure reveals itself through our own words and deeds. We emulate and practice that which we take in.

Think about the things you think, do and say. Are you acting provocatively? Are you seeking to engage in sexual activities? Are you dressing immodestly? If you are doing these things, what do you think is motivating you? Does any of it have to do with the media you are ingesting? Who is whispering in your ear? Is it the voice of God, or the enemy?

If you are taking in all of the filth the media has to offer and not praying or reading your Bible, surely it’s not God’s voice leading you into sexual sin. It’s a lot easier to be lured in by it if you aren’t taking in and ingesting the Word of God which is the bread of life (John 6:48, John 1:1-14) as well as praying each day. It’s hard to seek the impure and the pure at the same time.

Another fruit of our desensitization is that many Christians are dressing in provocative and sexually alluring ways. What's happened to our modesty? Do we really want to look "sexy"? Do we really want to draw others to lust? Are we so vain that we want others to offend God and desire us physically against His wishes?

The problem is that so many Christians are fully accustomed to the world’s ways, so much so that we don't even know the difference between modesty and immodesty. Again, we have been desensitized. The slippery slope of immodesty has been greased and a large number of people who call themselves Christians are sliding right down it.

So what's the solution? How do we turn the tide of sexual impurity in our own lives and thus help the Church to do so in a corporate way?

In this question we have the first answer: each one of us must start with him or herself. It's time we all take the matter of sexual purity before the Lord in individual prayer. Each of us needs to ask God, "Lord, have I been desensitized in this area? Are my attitudes and morals with regard to sex in tune with you? How can I meet your high moral standard?”

Also, each one of us needs to discern how and why we have been desensitized. At least part of the reason, in my view (what I'm about to say could take up an entire additional message, maybe a book) is that many of us are not filled with the Holy Spirit.

Yes, we believe. Yes, we have been baptized in water. But many of us have not been baptized with fire, the type of fire that changed Peter from a spiritual showoff and coward to a humble, powerful man of God. If you’d like to know how to take that next step, take a look at my video "Being Filled with the Spirit Means Speaking in Tongues".

Now back to our main point. Once a person sincerely asks God to bring himself in line with God's Word with regard to any issue, God will very quickly pull out the stops to help him figure out how to do so. In this next step more often than not we find God leading us to the Word of God for answers.

There one can discover that God forbids that we see the nakedness of anyone other than our spouses (see Genesis 9:19-27, Leviticus 18:6-19, 2 Samuel 11), that sex outside of marriage is forbidden (Acts 15:29), that even entertaining lustful desires when one is not married is forbidden (Matthew 5:28), and that being a Christian calls for dressing and living modestly (1 Peter 3:1-3).

When you've determined from God’s Word that the area of sex (or of any other sin) is a weakness in your life, don't ignore it and think that it will go away; stand up against it.

I want everyone who reads this to clearly understand, including myself, that if you are struggling with sexual sin there is WITHOUT QUESTION at least one demonic spirit, probably more than one, at the door of your mind directly involved in enticing you to sin. You must tell that spirit, and needless to say, all of the spirits who are tempting you, to leave you in the name of Jesus. You must bind those spirits and cast them out (Matthew 18:18, Mark 16:15-18).

Many of us, dare I say, most of us, are trying to fight this battle through attempting to be more disciplined, but this is not enough. We must also fight and rid ourselves of the demons behind the sin.

Many of us don't want to do this, but I am telling you POINT BLANK that if we don't, we will not succeed in becoming free of sexual sin. The demons of sexual sin are just too powerful once they have woven themselves into our lives for us to allow them to stay and expect to live above the fray.

Demons of sexual sin must be cast out. If they're not, they can and will hide for a while waiting to attack when any moment of weakness presents itself. I probably don’t need to remind anyone of how clever they can be.

Church, it's time we "batten down the hatches" as they say and close the door on sexual sin in our lives.

In this ever darkening world we need to be increasingly vigilant to prevent ourselves from falling into lust and to prevent ourselves from leading others into it as well.

We must decide every day to flee seeing the nakedness of others, to stop participating in any sexual sin (including the use of pornography, masturbation, fornication, adultery, homosexuality, bestiality, etc.), and finally we must present ourselves to others in a modest way.

Let us strive to achieve holiness in this area and recognize during our moments of weakness that the power of God is available to us to win this battle if we will call out to the Lord and use the power of His name and His shed blood to help us fight against it.

We must embrace lives of holiness in this and all facets of life if we expect to live and move down the narrow path of righteousness (Matthew 7:13-14). Anything short of this means we are going in the wrong direction, down the broad road that leads to destruction.

I want all the readers of this blog to know that I am human, too, and am also subject to attacks from the enemy in this and all other areas of life. God is providing this article as much for my own instruction as it is for the readers who also need its council.

I encourage you all to pray for each other, as well as the rest of the Church for help in the area of sexual purity in these dark days.

If any of you would like to pray with me over the phone about this or any other issue, please feel free to contact me and we’ll set up a time. If you are struggling, let’s take the matter to the Lord and use the power He gives us to help you get free! God can and will do it! He that is free in Christ is free indeed (John 8:36)!

God bless all who endeavor to find purity in this and all other areas of their lives, A-men.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Who is a "Great" Person?

What makes a "great" man or woman? Is it wealth, political power, career success, social position, intelligence, education or physical prowess?

In the eyes of the world, all of these attributes may make a person "great," but in God's economy greatness is defined quite differently.

In fact, to become "great" in the kingdom of heaven one must sacrifice the pursuit of becoming great in the eyes of man. This does not mean that one cannot be a Christian and succeed in these facets of life, but it's the seeking of doing so for one's own glory and to impress others that doesn't jibe with the Christian walk. Indeed, the true Believer must get to the point where he no longer even cares what the world thinks. What He does in life, He does to please God, not because others will think highly of him.

Even Jesus, who is worthy of all our praise, did not approach His duties on earth as a time in which He tried to make Himself seem great to others. It was said by His detractors (the Pharisees) that, "...we know that thou art true, and carest for no man: for thou regardest not the person of men, but teachest the way of God in truth..." (Mark 12:14).

Though the Pharisees were trying to disarm Jesus with flattery (if they really thought he taught the truth they would have received it), what they said was still true in that Jesus words and actions were not influenced by what others thought of Him.

This idea is reinforced in the Book of John where we are told that Jesus "...did not commit himself unto them (men), because he knew all men, and needed not that any should testify of man: for he knew what was in man (John 2:24-25).

The implication in this scripture was that Jesus knew that men indeed had the potential for evil (see Jeremiah 17:9, "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?") and thus He did not place His trust in what men said and thought of Him. He was far more concerned with truth and pleasing the Father than with being perceived as great through impressing others.

So while Jesus loved people more than anyone could love, He basically didn't care what they thought when those thoughts contradicted God's word, God's will, or the plan that was set before Him.

But it seems like it's human nature to want to be great in the eyes of others, to want an impressive life. We think in this way people will love us, want our company, and want to give something of themselves into our lives. But the desire to impress man is wrong thinking Biblically speaking because we are supposed to be seeking glory for God, not ourselves.

Jesus tells us, "He that speaketh of himself seeketh his own glory: but he that seeketh his glory that sent him, the same is true, and no unrighteousness is in him" (John 7:18). It's no surprise that the people who want to impress others spend a lot of time thinking and talking about themselves. They often feel "self-made" and terribly empowered in and of themselves to accomplish just about anything. And, they actually feel “great” for this reason.

But there are no self-made Christians. Remember Jesus' famous words, "...without me ye can do nothing" (John 15:5)?

What an incredibly true statement, but so many of us spend so much time seeking to be seen as “great,” as “approved.” This line of behavior soon crosses into seeking WORSHIP from others: a worship that fails to recognize the aforementioned idea that without Jesus nothing can be accomplished anyway.

It was written of the chief rulers and Pharisees that they sought the praises of men, rather than God (John 12:43). When we seek to please or impress men, we are diverting their gaze from God to ourselves. But God tells us that, "...I will not give my glory to another" (Isaiah 48:11). Our aim in life should be to seek to glorify God, so we put our eyes on Him and help others to do so as well.

Yet sometimes after God partners with us and we succeed, we want to take credit. Many times we will even praise the Lord with our lips but in our hearts we are not truly doing so; instead, we are glorifying self and patting our own backs.

On the other hand, we must also note that a person who partners with God did make the decision to do so and also made the necessary sacrifices to follow through with God's leading: for that there is a reward. What is that reward? Praise from God. Yes, God praises you for the good things you do. Job is a perfect example of this. Remember when God asked Satan, "Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil" (Job 1:8)? God was praising Job for the goodness he had cultivated in his life.

Consider also with me Daniel who was called "greatly beloved" (Daniel 9:23, 10:11), or what the Lord Jesus said of the Church at Philadelphia, "I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it: for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name"(Revelation 3:8). Jesus was recognizing their efforts for Him.

So we see recognition from God for Job’s, Daniel’s and the Church at Philadelphia’s good works. Nothing any of us do on God's behalf goes unnoticed by Him, especially if we do those works with the proper motive: that is, if we seek to glorify Him while NOT seeking glory for ourselves.

Jesus totally espoused this viewpoint when He taught us to do things secretly so that we could be rewarded by God openly. For example, He said pay "...thine alms…in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly" (Matthew 6:4). Here He’s telling us to give our money to God's works secretly, not doing so to receive praise from others so that then God may reward us openly

Jesus tells us to have the same attitude when we pray, "But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly" (Matthew 6:6 ).

Once again He tells us to approach fasting in the same manner, saying, "...appear not unto men to fast, but unto thy Father which is in secret: and thy Father, which seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly (Matthew 6:18).

Why does God want us to do so much in secret if He is also all about rewarding us, bragging on us, and giving us glory from Himself? Because He doesn't want us to seek glory from other men or for us to glorify other men. When it comes to glory, our relationship with God is VERY INTIMATE and He is very jealous over this sharing of glory between us and Him. If we glorify other people, we are taking away glory that was meant for Him. If we glorify ourselves, we also TAKE AWAY His glory and His opportunity to brag on and to reward us.

You see, God truly wants to congratulate and brag on us, but we must recognize that He is the One who made us to be who we are, who built into us our talents and abilities. As Creator, He deserves praise and glory for the good things which He has made, namely, us. Without Him creating us, we would literally not exist, how much less would we be able to succeed in life without Him? Why then do we insist on seeking glory for ourselves?

This leads me back to what it means to be great. Many of us see our earthly occupations as a means of propping ourselves up, as defining who we are, as our glory. But let me tell you, this is only how the world looks at it, not heaven!

As mentioned in the first paragraph, the world glorifies people for, among other things, their physical abilities, academic and professional achievements, and most of all, for making and having money. The trap many of us Christians fall into is when we glorify people for these worldly attributes and most of all when we MEASURE OURSELVES BY THEM. We are in real trouble when we start to think that if we don't achieve worldly success as they have that something might be wrong with us or that God has abandoned us. But, again, please remember that God is in no way measuring us by the world. He is our Provider and WE DO NOT NEED TO BE RICH to know that He is providing for us.

In the Lord's Prayer Jesus reminds us to say, "Give us this day our daily bread." (Matthew 6:11). God does provide our daily bread and we need not have an abundance of riches to know that as long as we are alive and serving Him that He is providing for us. We do not need to measure ourselves by anyone or anything else but by how well we are walking in the Word of God.

The conclusion of the matter is that our success in the world does not have anything to do with our success in heaven. Yes, God blesses us and enables His children to succeed in earthly matters, but He is far more concerned about our heavenly accomplishments - the things He can praise us for rather than men, namely, our loving the Lord our God with all our hearts, souls, minds and strengths and loving our neighbours as ourselves (Luke 10:27).

How God makes a way for us to provide for ourselves is of little consequence if we are NOT meeting our heavenly responsibilities. If you fail to do that but are a successful doctor, lawyer, nurse, pro athlete, entertainer, or business man, all of your success amounts to a pile of waste in the end at your judgment. As Jesus reminds, "For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul" (Matthew 16:26)?

Let us strive to remember that we need not be great or important in the eyes of man to be both of those things in God's heavenly kingdom. Let us also do things for God without seeking the attention of man, but let's do them because we love and want to please Him. Let's take our eyes off of impressing others through self-importance and seek to impress God by keeping His Word. May all who read this article make a firm decision to do so. God bless all who do.